Deficit in 2009 Could Top $124Bln

Russia's budget deficit could top 4 trillion rubles ($124 billion), or more than 10 percent of GDP, this year if oil prices average $32 a barrel, Interfax reported Thursday, citing sources close to the government.

The scenario projects gross domestic product of 38 trillion rubles ($1.2 trillion) and the dollar being worth 34 rubles, from around 32.2 currently, it said.

Earlier in the week, Interfax reported that the Finance Ministry was considering restating this year's budget based on an oil price forecast of $32 per barrel, compared with a current price of around $40 for Urals crude.

Last month, Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said the 2009 budget deficit -- the first in a decade -- would likely be 1.5 trillion to 2 trillion rubles.

Vedomosti reported Thursday that the government cut its average oil forecast for this year to $40 per barrel from $50 at a meeting chaired by President Dmitry Medvedev.

(Reuters, Bloomberg)